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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lectionary Leanings~Making a list and checking it twice...

Here we are preachers, in the last days of the count down to Christmas. All four candles in the Advent wreath have been lit, the church is "greened," the music is planned, and now it's time for sermons--and if you have multiple services, that might mean multiple sermons as well! We have three propers to choose from for Christmas, and they can be found here.

Will you be preaching the traditional Christmas story from Luke? Or perhaps you will take a different perspective and focus on John's beautiful prologue, read in some traditions as a "second gospel." I first heard it read that way--at the end of a magnificent midnight service--my last year of seminary when I was lucky enough to serve on the altar at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and while I had never particularly associated that passage with Christmas, hearing it in that context changed the way I thought about it for ever.

Will you celebrate both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Will you have a pageant? Will you be up all night wrapping presents after the late service on Christmas Eve (my usual habit)? What are your plans for this most holy time?


  1. Good morning, RDM!
    Our pageant is behind us (cute!), and my regular group of children will be mostly away since Christmas on Sunday gets people traveling for the whole weekend. This disturbs my plans a bit for the family service. We've been setting out the figures for the nativity scene *away* from the manger, with the idea they would all go to the Manger at the family service. Now I'm not sure there will be enough children who remember where we put them! But thanks to the brilliance of kathrynzj, I think I have a new plan. I just need a few people (of any age) to bring the figures forward while I tell the story.
    I'm all set for the candlelight service, using a piece of sustainable writing adapted from an old Christmas pageant done by adults in a previous church. It's based on Luke 2. And on Christmas Day I'm preaching an adaptation of the sermon I wrote for the Sunday After for Lectionary Homiletics, using Psalm 148. (At least I think it's in there. I'm still waiting for my copy.) We will also read John 1 as the Call to Worship
    Then, blessedly, vacation! Including having January 1st off. Yay!

  2. I don't preach Christmas Eve--we just sing and read scripture. I'll have a very brief reflection on the Luke nativity story for Christmas morning. On Christmas morning we will also have someone reading a monologue from Joseph's point of view. It's by Jonathan Goldstein and I heard it on This American Life. I'm also trying to get Jan. 1 planned ahead of time so I can take off the week of Dec. 26. I thought I was going to pull this off, but now I'm home with three sick kids . . .

  3. My goal is to finish my Christmas Eve sermon today--I have an idea and a start. *Aside--can I say poop in my Christmas Eve sermon? Not euphemistically--I'm talking about what newborn babies do--eat, sleep, cry, and poop.

    I'm set for Christmas Day--mostly lessons and carols with a paragraph reflection I wrote. I want to start on Jan 1 (Name of Jesus) yet this week so that I can truly be off next.

    On the home front, think shopping is done. Just need to wrap. Oh--and assemble the dollhouse for the three year old. Christmas cards might happen yet. They might not.

  4. Christmas cards are now New Year's cards in our house. It's a beautiful, wonderful thing.

    Yes, you can say poop. Folks will love it.

    Christmas Day - We are baptizing a family of 3 (kids) and then inviting any children that are there to come forward, gather around the COmmunion table and bring the gift they brought from home with them. The plan is to talk to them about their gifts and then talk about the gift of the Christ child born on this day. We will talk about him as a grown up and why we celebrate Communion. We will then serve the children by intinction and then tell them to go get their families/the rest of the congregation for them to come forward too.

    I'm pretty excited about it and not just because it means I don't have to write a meditation.

    CHristmas Eve is dictated by the Music Director. They pastors show up to read, to start the candle lighting and I do a brief meditation based on JOhn. I think this year's will be called 'What's the Point' and talk about why we use John 1:1-5 after all of that talk about the baby and the manger. WHy move to light and the WOrd? WHat's the point?

    At 11AM Christmas day I am DONE until January 3rd. Thanks be to God!

  5. Silent - if you think 'poop' is too strong, you could try 'poo.' But I think it's ok to use in the context you described - incarnation is about God in the flesh with all it's glorious, messy earthiness.

    I have to finalize my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. We're using the RCL recommended Christmas Eve readings. The denomination resource had a Christmas Day service based on the carol "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come" (all 14 verses!) which I am adapting to include more carols. Jan 1 is our official "Lessons and Carols". I'm modifying the traditional nine to focus more on the later parts of the story - Anna and Simeon, the name of Jesus, and maybe even bring in the 3 wise guys, since we're not doing Ephipany. The trick will be to not make it too repetative.

    So, I'm working all three today to get order of worship done. I'll have a children's message and short sermon Christmas Eve, meditations Christmas Day, and maybe a sermon (possibly a sustainable one) for the Jan 1.

    I've still got some baking to do, and as soon as the gifts come via UPS presents to wrap. I may not get my family Christmas cards out until after the Big Day, but they've come to expect that from me. ;)

  6. kathyrnzj - I love the children's message idea. What a wonderful way to include the kids and teach about communion!

  7. Two services on Christmas Eve here, and I'll preach on Luke at both of them. At the early service I'll probably use a kid's book for the gospel and invite the kids up to gather around the creche. Christmas morning I'm anticipating a small group, and I'll preach on John--I've been talking about the story told from different perspectives--in Matthew it's Joseph's perspective, in Luke it's Mary's and in John it's God's ...a different take on Jesus' "birth."

  8. We have a pageant at 5:30, so no sermon to write. But, I'm preaching at the 11pm Christmas Eve service with communion and a lovely silent night/candle tradition. First time ever to preach Christmas Eve as I am an Associate Pastor. I'm going with Luke 2 and struck by the word for inn...means guest room and is the same word used in Luke 22 when Jesus celebrates the Last Supper in the guest room. Also struck by Bethlehem, which means house of bread in Hebrew.

    Not preaching Christmas day, but covering the pastoral prayer.

    Presents have been mailed to family for our post Christmas gatherings...and we decided to skips the cards this year...

    so, it's just the sermon and pastoral care. Keeping you all in prayer as each of you serve as midwives to these sermons!

  9. Just a thought, Silent--Our associate pastor said "poop" in what was his farewell sermon to the church this last Sunday in much the same context you mention and THAT ("Honey, he said poop") was my takeaway for what I'm sure was probably a lovely sermon about something other than bodily functions. His persona has been to be the edgy guy, and would guess it would be different coming from someone who still has a babe in diapers at home, but there may be people who hear nothing else. Which might be okay (yes, Jesus was a real baby--not a bad takeaway), but there it is.

  10. Silent, I would go for it. Anything to get past teh cutsy-pie baby we seem to have too often in the Christmas story (Away in a Manger--I am talking about you!)

    WE have 2 services, a 5:30 aimed at younger children and a 7:00 family service. You can read more about what we are doing at them here One service will include a Santa story. The other some talk about fear. I'll let you guess which is which.

    WE have been invited to worship with a neighbouring charge on Sunday, and then they will join us on Januray 1. THe New Year's Service is going to be "loosely planned" (something just above "wing it") and any planning I will do will happen next week.

  11. Candlelight Christmas eve communion at 5 p.m. Using the story of the Christmas Eve truce during WWII. I have Christmas cards for all the kids showing kids from around the world and will tie into that with different looking nativities from around the world...a global context and a peace emphasis this year.

    Also using a Hoberman sphere to illustrate that God living in us expands our heart/world. We tend to have more tweens that pre-school on Christmas Eve.

  12. kathyrnzj, I love your Christmas Day plans.

    Silent, I"m another vote for using "poop." Of course, I've got two potty trainees at home, so I say it about 999 times a day. I might be immune. :)

    I'm preaching Christmas Eve, and we've got a semi-Lessons and Carols service. I had the bright idea to include a short meditation after each lesson/carol pair. I thought it would be easier, and easier to listen to, than one big sermon. Second-guessing myself right about now! But, leading Christmas Eve at all is a gift for a supply preacher, so I'm enjoying it.

    Thankfully, no one asked me to preach Christmas Day, and I was smart enough to say "no" about 4 times for January 1st. Hubby and I will both have a Sunday off for the first time in months. Yay!

  13. I love reading everyone's plans. Just glad I'm not writing a sermon for this week! Blessings to those who are.

    I finished my order of worship for Christmas Eve. It's on my blog.
    Now on to Christmas Day and New Year's. It's amazing how little I got done today. Prayers for healthy children (and a healthy mom!) are appreciated.

  14. Merry Christmas Week, RevGals! Great to have a glimpse of what you're involved with for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day (poop and all!). Know I'm thinking of you, grateful for you, and holding you in prayer.

    I've been blogging at The Advent Door again this season, always surprised at the new doorways and invitations that Advent offers. My latest reflection is Winter Solstice: Blessing for the Longest Night, and I'd love for you to stop by. I wrote it in hopes of providing some words for those who struggle in this season, and for those who support them. It's been wonderful to hear from folks who are planning to use it at their Longest Night/Blue Christmas services.

    I wish all of you many blessings as you serve in this season and beyond. May you have a wondrous Christmas, and be surprised by the story all over again.

  15. SB - I could have sworn it was your voice on the Diane Rheem show this morning - there was a woman who has your voice!

    RDM - we have almost identical service plans. Thanks for the "perspective" insight.

    KZJ - I love the gifts idea - thanks!

    I hope to have the sermons for Christmas Eve and Christmas day outlined before I leave my office today. The kids get out of school today so I'm up against that.

  16. late checking in this week. Christmas Eve eve- 23rd - is our carols and nativity play. we found too many families were busy on Christmas eve. service is pretty much the same as last year, which means I am late thinking about it and now have to find a narrator. the nativity play is narrated, so no need for rehearsals or children learning lines. whoever turns up plays whatever parts they want.

    Christmas Day, I have the song 'God is watching us from a distance' in my head. I am thinking of using the song and saying Christmas means God is with us, God is not watching from a distance. God is here in the pain and the mess.
    also on Christmas Day we will have a story : Wombat Divine: which is about Australian animals putting on a nativity play, and wombat looks like missing out on a part.

    Carolling at an aged care centre tonight.

  17. We had our big Christmas celebration last week and I preached on Luke. So Sunday, I'm planning to go back to the Annuciation and the Magnificat. Page is disturbingly blank so far, but the words leaping of the page at me are the invitations to rejoice.

    Also want to do something a bit interactive. Maybe have everyone write the gift they need to receive from God, the gift they are most thankful for, and the gift they want to give God (or others) on a giant cut-out of a parcel. (DH thinks this is too twee for words...)

    We are also going to include an informal communion celebration. Trying to prevail on DH to lead. (Some over-sensitive souls in our congregation would object to a woman presiding. I don't think Christmas day is the day to have a row about it.)

  18. Preaching two services tomorrow - 4 pm family service and 10:30 pm candlelight service, plus a 10 am on Christmas Day. I've gotten three different sermons done. 4 pm is very kid-friendly, about gifts and Jesus-as-gift and as what we will give as gifts to Jesus in the coming year in terms of our caring for each other and helping. 10:30 is a reflection on what "home" means if you're giving birth in a stable, and how we all make "home" and "family" as Mary and Joseph did, as the shepherds did on the hillside, as God Godself does by giving us his own son. Both of these are built off the Luke 2 passage. Sunday is John 1:1-14. I always find John tough to preach, since it's so metaphorical, but this year I decided to give in to it and talk about how the synoptics are all about Jesus' human history and John is about Jesus' divine may be unintelligble, but my John sermons usually are....

    Blessings, y'all. May the next few days be peace and love and not too much stress. Of course, my Bishop is coming on Jan 8th for confirmations and such, so my time of chaos is not yet over.


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